Issa Rae: positive images of Blacks in media overcompensate past negativity

HBO's “Insecure” create and star says the media is trying too hard to make up for years of inaccurate portrayals.

Actress-writer-producer Issa Rae weighs in the current images of Blacks in media

Issa Rae
(Photo: Brad Barket/Getty Images for Peabody)

Writer/producer/ actress Issa Rae is never short on opinion.

During a recent panel discussion at the Cannes Lion International Festival of Creativity, the outspoken star of HBO’s hit show Insecure, said the media is showing an unrealistic portrayal of black people to compensate for years of negativity, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“For black women, I tend to find it harmful that we have all the burden on our shoulders, to uphold this specific image,” she said. “You see them as the strong, flawless, fierce type of woman. And even on a great day, I’m never those things.”

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Rae then asked the audience if they’ve listed to Beyonce and Jay-Z recently released and complexed album, “Everything is Love.”

“Even hearing that Jay-Z verse being thankful to Beyonce and all of the black women in his life for putting up with his bullshit,” she said. “And that’s kind of (the idea of) what black women are currently, (that) they’re going to be there when you need them.

“And that’s absolutely not the case, for sure with anyone I know.”

Sharing the stage with an all female panel including CoverGirl senior vice president Ukonwa Ojo, Rae said black men being portrayed in the media as “overly cool and suave,” have also gone too far. She said the positive portrayals in the past 10 years are overcompensating for previous negative ones.

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The panel then talked about the concept of toxic masculinity and how hard it can be for a male in world that has made strength a huge part of what it means to be a man. They said while traditional male traits, including confidence and competence, are aspirational for women as well, men are discouraged to display female traits like emotional intelligence.

“This is the audience that determines what culture values, and if we have a culture that values masculinity over femininity, this audience also has to own that,” Ojo said. “If we want to change that and say that we see a world where everyone is equal, then this is the audience that is going to tell that story.

“So, I ask of you to elevate femininity and expand the definition of femininity and you have the opportunity to create the world and the future we all want to be a part of,” she concluded.